A UBIQUITOUS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT MODEL FOR A UNIVERSITY CONTEXT

S. Figueroa, M.M. Perez Crespo, R. Cordero, C. Perez Crespo

National University of Santiago del Estero (ARGENTINA)
The widespread presence of the information and communications technologies within the university environment shows dramatically that computing has become ubiquitous. Mobility, interactivity and ubiquity make it possible altogether that the teaching-learning process originated in the university room spread out of its limits and, in turn, those initiated outside it may be solved within it. Ubiquitous computing blurs educational spaces and times; the gap between formal and informal learning creates new resources and learning opportunities.

This new way of learning concurs on the need for thinking of two continued learning models that promote not only content acquisition but also encourage competences development to meet the demands of the world today.

In this context a new educational scenario arises, the u-learning, characterized by a set of formative activities to be accessed from every device everywhere. Such a ubiquitous learning, by nature, includes every means of transmission; it goes beyond the computer and the mobile devices to incorporate the potentialities of the various technological means.

This work is developed as part of the “Ubiquitous Computing: its application within the university environment” Research Project accredited by the CICyT-UNSE 23/C113 in the Faculty of Exact Sciences and Technologies of the National University of Santiago del Estero. The aim of this project is to design, out of a systemic approach, a ubiquitous learning environment model for the university context.
Being a complex predicament it is necessary to recognize the multiple causes and the multiple effects that it has or might have; the different sectors of reality that would be influenced or might be influenced by the various potential solutions of the problem. Therefore a model is required for its understanding and for the development of alternative solutions afterwards.

A preliminary design of a ubiquitous learning environment model appropriate for the university context is introduced. The systems thinking which makes it easier interacting with the problem and determining the main elements involved in the reality under study is utilized as the modeling tool. In the model the characteristics of u-learning, i.e. permanency, accessibility, immediacy, interactivity, and context-awareness are considered.
Firstly, the impact of ubiquitous computing on the university teaching and learning processes is analyzed out of an exploratory study. Secondly, its insertion in university environments related to teaching, learning, academic management and research is determined qualitatively. Thirdly, the constituents of a ubiquitous learning environment and their connections to the didactic model are described from a systemic perspective. Lastly, the conclusions and future work lines are presented.